Author: Radio News Hub

Only home fans will be allowed in the final two rounds of Premier League matches
Away fans will be barred from attending the final two rounds of Premier League games this season, the league has announced.
Up to 10,000 fans will be allowed into matches in round 37 on May 18 and 19 and in round 38 on May 23, provided the Government goes ahead with the planned easing of coronavirus restrictions on May 17.

However, a decision has now been taken to limit this to home spectators.

“Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance,” a league statement read.

“The safety and security of supporters is of paramount importance. Clubs have a proven track record of providing Covid-safe environments and have operational plans in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to their stadiums.”

The Government is set to announce whether or not restrictions will be eased no later than May 10.

But the data is encouraging, with deaths at their lowest levels for seven months, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The league had been understood to be keen to open up the final two rounds to fans to avoid any issues around competition integrity.

The Premier League is yet to confirm what mitigations will be in place for those wishing to attend, with fans at last month’s Carabao Cup final required to provide proof of two negative coronavirus tests before entry to Wembley.

The league is supportive of a Covid certification system, with its executive director Bill Bush having previously described it as “an acceptable burden” in order to get spectators back into venues in financially viable numbers.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters spoke in March about his ambition to have stadiums operating at full capacity next season.

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Gibraltar will not require UK tourists to take Covid test
Gibraltar has announced it will not require UK tourists to be tested for coronavirus when foreign holidays resume.
Chief minister Fabian Picardo said the Rock offers a “great British staycation in the Mediterranean”.

He told Sky News: “Gibraltar has an open frontier with Spain and the rest of the European Union, and we don’t require PCR testing for those who come across our land frontier.

“We therefore don’t think it would be appropriate for us to require PCR testing of those who are coming from the United Kingdom, which has a higher vaccinated population and a lower incidence of Covid than the rest of the European Union.

“When you’re coming to Gibraltar you’re coming to a part of Britain, and therefore you’re going to be very welcome here without the need for a PCR test.

“It’s thanks to the United Kingdom Government that Gibraltar can proudly say that all of our adult population is now vaccinated.

“Gibraltar has zero cases of Covid today.”

Many popular European Union destinations will require UK visitors to have been vaccinated, received a recent negative test or have coronavirus antibodies.

Sharon Ehrlich Bershadsky, head of the Israeli government’s London tourist office, said the Middle Eastern country is “definitely ready and wants British tourists to visit”.

It will initially reopen its borders to groups of foreign tourists who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine from May 23.

Visitors will be required to take a serological test on arrival to prove their vaccination status, but Ms Bershadsky said this could be dropped for UK holidaymakers.

She said: “We will eliminate this test in the future, hopefully, by a bilateral agreement between countries.

“So for example, if Israel and the UK will have this agreement, the British tourists that come to Israel will not need this antibody test.

“I’m really, really hoping with the impressive advanced case of the vaccination here in the UK, we will get this agreement as soon as possible.”

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said unregulated international travel “can be very dangerous indeed” but there are steps which can minimise the risk.

He told Sky News: “We certainly got our hands very comprehensively burned in March 2020 when very large numbers of people returned from holidays in Europe with the virus and set the pandemic going in the UK at a very fast rate.

“So, we’ve learned our lesson that international travel in an unregulated way can be very dangerous indeed.

“I think while travel is inevitably going to start happening, we really do need to do everything we can to minimise the risks associated with that: think about the places where people are going to travel; to make sure that people have been immunised before they travel; and if necessary, implement quarantine and control measures to stop the virus being imported and spreading about.”

The Government is expected to announce on Friday that the ban on overseas leisure travel for people in England will be lifted on May 17.

It will publish the lists it will use as part of the new risk-based traffic light system, with different rules for returning travellers from green, amber and red destinations.

People arriving from a green location will not have quarantine, while those returning from somewhere on the amber list must self-isolate for at least five days.

The red list requires a 10-night stay in a quarantine hotel.

The green list could include destinations such as Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel and Malta.

Assessments will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Coronavirus cases detected among Indian delegation ahead of G7 talks
India’s foreign minister has been forced to pull out of attending the G7 meeting in London in person after two positive coronavirus cases were detected in the country’s travelling delegation.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was participating virtually in the event after coming into contact with the suspected cases, although he has not tested positive.

Although India is not a G7 member, it had been invited to attend the meeting of foreign ministers as a guest.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “we are all having to adapt in agile ways” as he welcomed Mr Jaishankar, appearing on a screen, to the meeting.

There are strict coronavirus security measures in place at the Lancaster House summit, which is the first face-to-face meeting of G7 foreign ministers for more than two years.

The two Indian cases were picked up by advance testing and none of the party had attended the summit venue.

Mr Jaishankar tweeted: “Was made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible Covid positive cases.

“As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode. That will be the case with the G7 meeting today as well.”

A senior UK diplomat said: “We deeply regret that foreign minister Dr Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today in person and will now attend virtually, but this is exactly why we have put in place strict Covid protocols and daily testing.”

During the visit to the UK the Indian delegation had other meetings but Public Health England has assessed that social distancing and mask-wearing meant there was no need for any further action.

Home Secretary Priti Patel met the Indian foreign minister on Tuesday, but she has not been told to self-isolate.

Coronavirus measures in place at the foreign ministers’ meeting include regular testing and cleaning – one insider joked there was “hand sanitiser running down the walls” of Lancaster House – and clear plastic screens between ministers at the summit table.

Face masks were worn for the official photograph and handshakes have been replaced by forearm bumps to avoid the risk of contamination.

Ministers from the G7 – the UK, US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy – have been urged to do more to help poorer countries vaccinate their citizens.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown and World Health Organisation chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have called on the wealthy nations to step up contributions to the international effort.

Mr Raab has stressed the UK’s commitment to the Covax initiative, which distributes coronavirus jabs to developing nations.

He said: “I think the Covax mechanism is particularly important at this very sensitive time, for the developing countries, vulnerable countries and the poorer countries around the world.”

But in a letter to the Foreign Secretary, Mr Brown said: “To date, one billion doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccines have been administered. That is an extraordinary achievement.

“But the achievement is diminished by the scale of inequality in vaccine provision.

“Covax has now delivered over 50 million doses of vaccine to more than 120 countries. Yet low-income countries account for less than 1% of the doses administered to date.

“The vaccine gap between the richer and poorer parts of the world is growing by the day.

“Closing that gap is not just a moral imperative but an urgent medical necessity for combating Covid-19, and preventing it mutating and threatening every country, rich or poor.”

Ahead of the foreign ministers’ meeting in London, Dr Tedros said next month’s summit of G7 leaders could be “the most significant meeting in its history” because of their ability to lead a “global effort” to offer vaccines and fund treatments through Covax and the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (Act-a).

Mr Brown said it was a matter of “grave concern” that Act-a needed 19 billion dollars (£13.7 billion) in funding this year and called on the G7 to help meet around two-thirds of the cost.

Other issues on the agenda on Wednesday include media freedom, arbitrary detention – on Sunday Mr Raab effectively accused Iran of treating Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a hostage – and girls’ education.

The ministers will sign up to new global targets to get 40 million more girls into school and 20 million more reading by the age of 10 in low and lower middle income countries by 2026, and also promise £10.9 billion over the next two years to help women in developing countries get jobs and build businesses.

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Coronavirus booster shots rollout prepared to guard against third wave
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said scientists are looking at a range of options, including new jabs to protect against variants or mixing the types of injections given,
Ministers, health chiefs and Government scientists are stepping up preparations for an autumn booster vaccination campaign to protect against a third wave of coronavirus.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said scientists are looking at a range of options, including new jabs to protect against variants or mixing the types of injections given, so if a patient had AstraZeneca for their initial doses they could be given Pfizer as a booster.

“We want them to be able, if they need to, from September onwards to boost those that are most vulnerable,” Mr Zahawi said.

The Government has already ordered 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in preparation for a booster campaign.

Mr Zahawi told Sky News: “Pfizer is one option, we’re going to give them an AstraZeneca option, we’re working with the team on a vaccine variant.

“Clinicians haven’t yet made the decision when they will need to boost, whether to give more immunity to the most vulnerable, to increase the durability of the protection or to deal with the variant.

“When they decide, I want to give them as much optionality, as many vaccines that were, then they will make those choices.”

England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam is conducting a clinical trial to look at “which vaccine delivers the best boost”, Mr Zahawi said.

The Government has committed almost £30 million to improve vaccine testing capacity to help keep on top of the virus and any new variants.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said testing facilities at Porton Down in Wiltshire are to be bolstered to help “future-proof” the country, with a £29.3 million boost confirmed for the expansion of the laboratories where scientists test existing and new vaccines against variants of concern.

Tests on blood samples can help scientists monitor the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.

Current testing capacity is 700 a week, but the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said this will increase to 1,500 by January 2022 – backed with a previous £20 million investment – rising to 3,000 with the increased funding.

Mr Zahawi told BBC Breakfast the investment into Porton Down would “future-proof the vaccination programme for next year and the years beyond that, as we move from pandemic to endemic and deal with it in the way we would deal with the annual flu vaccination programme”.

Asked whether all over-50s will be offered a booster shot before winter, Mr Zahawi said “that decision hasn’t been made”.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said variants will be an “increasing problem going forward” so the investment is a positive development as there is a backlog of tests to be conducted.

He told Sky: “We’re all well aware that this has been a concern since the beginning of the year, when we first reported the emergence of this much more infectious variant in the UK, and we’ve been hearing in the news for weeks and months now about variants and other parts of the world – South Africa and Brazil and, most recently, India – but there is virus circulation going on throughout the world and in many of those places there’s no real testing of the viruses going on, so there’s certainly viral evolution happening.

“As more and more of the world’s population become immune to the virus through infection or through immunisation, the speed of that is likely to go up so it’s certainly a problem now and it’s likely to be an increasing problem going forward.”

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub

UK to stay ‘one step ahead’ of Covid-19 with investment in testing labs
A multimillion-pound investment in testing capacity will help the UK stay “one step ahead” of coronavirus and any new variants, senior officials said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said testing facilities at Porton Down in Wiltshire are to be bolstered to help “future proof” the country, with a cash boost confirmed for the expansion of the laboratories where scientists test existing and new vaccines against variants of concern.

Tests on blood samples can help scientists monitor the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines.

Current testing capacity is 700 tests a week, but the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said this will increase to 1,500 by January 2022 – backed with a previous £20 million investment.

The DHSC said a further £29.3 million investment will double the capacity for testing variant samples to 3,000 per week when the work is completed.

Mr Hancock said: “We’ve backed UK science from the very start of this pandemic and this multi-million pound funding for a state-of-the-art vaccine testing facility at Porton Down will enable us to further future-proof the country from the threat of new variants.”

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “A new variant that can escape the current vaccines is the greatest risk of a third wave.

“This new investment will help us stay one step ahead of the virus by doubling our capacity to test vaccine effectiveness against emerging variants.”

The investment comes ahead of the expected lifting of the ban on foreign holidays for people in England from May 17 as part of the next easing of coronavirus restrictions.

A risk-based traffic light system will be introduced, with different rules for returning travellers depending on which list their destination is on.

People arriving from a green location will not have to quarantine, while those returning from somewhere on the amber list must self-isolate for at least five days.

The red list requires a 10-night stay in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.

The green list for foreign holiday destinations will reportedly be published on Friday, and Government travel advice gives an indication of which destinations could be on it.

Tourists visiting a number of popular summer hotspots do not face a level of risk for coronavirus that is “unacceptably high”, according to the latest updates from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The FCDO is not advising against non-essential travel to Portugal (excluding the Azores), Spain’s Canary Islands or the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zante, Corfu and Crete.

Downing Street has admitted the NHS app may not be ready for use as a vaccine passport when international travel resumes.

Holidaymakers visiting most popular foreign destinations will be required to show evidence that they have been vaccinated, received a recent negative test or have coronavirus antibodies.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has previously said the NHS app – which is currently used to book medical appointments and order repeat prescriptions – will be able to display evidence that someone in England has been vaccinated or tested.

But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman indicated that officials are working on alternative plans for when international travel resumes.

“Mr Shapps set out the approach we are looking to take,” the spokesman said.

“Obviously we will be able to confirm ahead of the 17th at the earliest what measures are used for those initial countries that are available for travel, be it the app or another approach.”

The spokesman added: “There are other routes to achieving the same end-goal. We are working on the app at the moment, at pace, to have it ready, and we will be able to confirm ahead of the 17th at the earliest what approaches we will be using.”

Meanwhile, campaigners have warned that care home residents are forgoing healthcare appointments because of a requirement to self-isolate for 14 days after leaving the home for certain visits.

John’s Campaign is calling for the requirement, set out in Government guidance, to be urgently scrapped for all visits out, including external medical appointments and overnight stays.

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Britain set for flurry of campaigning on eve of ‘Super Thursday’ poll
Party leaders are preparing for a frantic last day of campaigning in the run-up to “super Thursday” as they bid to sway undecided voters before a bumper crop of elections.
The Prime Minister is expected to make a final pitch to the electorate in England with time running out before polls open, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will tour the country as he campaigns for votes.

With the coronavirus pandemic delaying a host of elections by 12 months, it means there will be two years’ worth of polls taking place across Great Britain on a single day on Thursday.

Voters will have their say on the make-up of English councils, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Senedd and decide who holds power in city halls, with a number of areas choosing regional mayors.

As part of Thursday’s slew of polls, Hartlepool will also elect a new MP as Labour looks to keep a seat that has been red since its inception in the 1970s.

But pollsters have predicted that Sir Keir is facing an uphill struggle to hold onto Labour’s traditional heartlands, as surveys predict the so-called “red wall” continues to drift away from the Opposition party.

Ahead of this week’s by-election vote, a Survation poll for ITV’s Good Morning Britain put Boris Johnson’s Conservatives on 50% – 17 points ahead of Labour – in the Leave-backing constituency.

There was further grim reading for Labour in The Guardian, which reported that internal polling suggested only 40% of the party’s previous supporters in the North East town had pledged to vote for its candidate on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Labour sources are also said to have told the paper it was in danger of losing control of Sunderland City Council and Durham County Council for the first time in 50 years.

Sir Keir, who has visited Hartlepool three times during the campaign, including on Saturday, acknowledged the party had a “mountain to climb” to rebuild trust with voters when asked about the Survation poll on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in North Wales, he said: “The task I took on as leader of the Labour Party was to rebuild, out of the worst general election result since 1935, and put the Labour Party back in a position to win the next general election.

“And that’s a mountain to climb. We’re climbing that mountain, it has taken difficult decisions and I’m absolutely up for any further difficult decisions there will be.”

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, is also due to hold a campaign event on the eve of the polls opening, while parties across Scotland will set out their stall in a programme of visits before the Holyrood contest.

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Manchester City through to first ever Champions League Final
They beat Paris Saint Germain 4-1 on aggregate in their semi-final
Manchester City are celebrating reaching the Champions League final for the first time in their history after a stunning performance against Paris St Germain.

Riyad Mahrez scored in each half as the Premier League leaders beat the 10-man French champions 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday to complete a 4-1 aggregate victory in their semi-final.

City were formidable in defence against a PSG side still showing plenty of attacking intent despite the absence through injury of star striker Kylian Mbappe, who was an unused substitute.

They then took the key chances when they came. Mahrez gave them a firm grip on proceedings with the opener on 11 minutes, pouncing on a rebound from a Kevin De Bruyne shot after Ederson launched a quick counter-attack.

The Paris-born winger then doubled the advantage after another raid just after the hour.

PSG then had Angel Di Maria sent off for a petulant stamp on Fernandinho as the visitors lost their composure in the latter stages.

City manager Pep Guardiola said: “We beat a team that knocked out Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

“It was an incredible, huge victory for us. What the players have done is incredible in the toughest year. Being so close to Premier League and in final of the Champions League is so good.”

City will now hope to cap a remarkable week in their history by securing their third Premier League title in four years, and their fifth in the past 10, against Chelsea on Saturday.

Chelsea could also be their opponents in the final in Istanbul later this month as they now await the winners of the other semi-final between the London club and Real Madrid.

The only shame for City was the absence of any fans in the ground as Covid-19 restrictions continue.

There was, however, a large gathering of them outside the ground to greet the arrival of the team coaches before the game despite torrential rain which later turned to hailstones and covered the pitch in ice.

“It was so weird, a semi-final of the Champions League in an empty stadium,” said Guardiola.

“This achievement requires having our people here, but of course we know what has happened.

“The club belongs to the people, that’s for sure. I’m pretty sure they’re so proud.”

PSG also had three players booked in an ill-disciplined close to the game after Di Maria’s dismissal. Two of their side, Ander Herrera and Marco Verratti, later accused referee Bjorn Kuipers of swearing at players amid fiery exchanges.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino said: “We need to believe what they are telling us but the most important thing is we are not in the final.

“If something is there, maybe UEFA will investigate the situation but it is not an excuse.”

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub

G7 foreign ministers under pressure to do more on fair vaccine distribution
They're set to consider equitable access to jabs, but are unlikely to commit to specific pledges
Ministers from the G7 group of leading industrialised nations are under pressure to do more to help poorer countries access coronavirus vaccines and treatments.

The meeting, chaired by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, is expected to consider equitable access to vaccines but the ministers are unlikely to commit to specific pledges for the number of doses they will offer developing nations.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown and World Health Organisation chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have called on the wealthy nations to do more.

Mr Raab has stressed the UK’s commitment to the Covax initiative, which distributes coronavirus jabs to developing nations.

He said: “I think the Covax mechanism is particularly important at this very sensitive time, for the developing countries, vulnerable countries and the poorer countries around the world.”

But in a letter to the Foreign Secretary, Mr Brown said: “To date, one billion doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccines have been administered. That is an extraordinary achievement.

“But the achievement is diminished by the scale of inequality in vaccine provision. Covax has now delivered over 50 million doses of vaccine to more than 120 countries.

“Yet low-income countries account for less than 1% of the doses administered to date.

“The vaccine gap between the richer and poorer parts of the world is growing by the day.

“Closing that gap is not just a moral imperative but an urgent medical necessity for combating Covid-19, and preventing it mutating and threatening every country, rich or poor.”

Ahead of the foreign ministers’ meeting in London, Dr Tedros said next month’s summit of G7 leaders could be “the most significant meeting in its history” because of their ability to lead a “global effort” to offer vaccines and fund treatments through Covax and the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (Act-a).

Mr Brown said it was a matter of “grave concern” that Act-a needed 19 billion dollars (£13.7 billion) in funding this year and called on the G7 to help meet around two-thirds of the cost.

Ministers from the G7 – the UK, US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy, along with the EU – will be joined on Wednesday by guests invited as part of the UK’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia, India, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have been invited to join the talks.

With India facing a devastating wave of coronavirus cases, Mr Raab said: “We have been providing air concentrators, ventilators, things like that.

“Obviously there’s a good opportunity because India’s here to engage on all of those aspects, and I think it’s important when you are going through the eye of the storm to really listen to what they need.

“And obviously being able to meet and discuss that is a great opportunity.

“There’s a much broader point and again a really valuable part of the G7 format is to think in the round, what do we do to help the most vulnerable countries around the world and I think Covax and the ability to fund it, to get vaccines to the most vulnerable countries, what we do about surplus domestic supply, all of those issues, again a really good opportunity for G7, along with our Indo-Pacific partners to talk all of that through and come up with positive answers.”

Other issues on the agenda on Wednesday include media freedom, arbitrary detention – on Sunday Mr Raab effectively accused Iran of treating Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a hostage – and girls’ education.

The ministers will sign up to new global targets to get 40 million more girls into school and 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10 in low and lower middle income countries by 2026 and also promise £10.9 billion over the next two years to help women in developing countries get jobs and build businesses.

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Co-op to make plant-based food range cost the same as meat equivalents
It is part of the supermarket’s plan to sell fully carbon neutral own-brand food and drink by 2025
The Co-op is to price match its own-brand plant-based food range against equivalent meat products to help shoppers adopt “flexitarian” diets.

The scheme is part of the supermarket’s plan to sell fully carbon neutral own-brand food and drink by 2025, in turn part of a climate plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

The Co-op say it is investing more than £1.7 million to reduce the cost of 29 fresh, chilled and ambient vegan products from the 5th of May to help consumers who saw price as a barrier to choosing a plant-based diet.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “It’s an industry-wide standard that plant-based alternatives are usually priced higher than their meat and dairy counterparts. At Co-op, we believe it shouldn’t cost you more money to eat plant-based food and that this disparity is unfair to those following vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets.

“It’s Co-op’s ambition to make our plant-based range, GRO, even more accessible to our members and customers, helping them make decisions that collectively will have an impact on the world we all share. Emissions from our operations and our own-brand products are where we have the greatest responsibility and can make the biggest difference. This move is a step in the right direction and we encourage other retailers and brands to consider making the change too.”

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Student loan overpayments of nearly £19m go unclaimed over five-year period
That's according to data from Research Professional News
Nearly £19 million in student loan over-payments has been held by the Government over the last five years unclaimed by graduates.

Just under 60,000 former students in England overpaid on their student loans since 2015-16 and are owed refunds, averaging more than £300 per person, according to data from the Student Loans Company.

The figures, obtained by Research Professional News, show nearly £18.4 million of over-payments on student loans in England has not yet been refunded to graduates’ bank accounts.

The SLC said it has introduced a new online repayment service over the past two years to make it easier for customers to manage their student loans and help avoid over-repayment.

The data, which was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that between 2015-16 and 2019-20 a total of £18,353,028 was not refunded.

The figures also show that, between these years, 58,950 people had not claimed their refunds.

Published: 05/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub


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